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Posts Tagged ‘Rafael Behr’

KAMPANJ Liberal Democrats var partiet som inför förra valet kunde suga upp väljare som var trötta på de två huvudmotståndarna.

New Statesman 23-29 May 2014

Inför valet 2015 kan det vara UK Independence Party som blir alternativet för missnöjda väljare.

Risken är den samma för både Conservative Party och Labour; att man tappar så pass många väljare till UKIP att man inte kan bilda en egen majoritetsregering.

Både Tories och Labour slipar därför på strategier för hur man skall kunna underminera förtroendet för UKIP. Men inget parti vill vara allt för tydliga med sina attacker eftersom riskerar irritera de av ”sina” egna väljare som uppfattar UKIP som ett alternativ.

Rafael Behr, på tidskriften New Statesman, skriver om partiernas våndor inför utmanaren Nigel Farage och hans UKIP.

Downing Street is becoming more aware of the limitations of “Vote Farage; get Miliband” as a message. One No 10 source tells me: “It will have to be more sophisticated than that.” The general election campaign will stress economic dependability. Cameron will be sold as the only candidate who can be relied upon not to poison the recovery with snake-oil policy prescriptions, whether bottled as Farage’s fearmongering nationalism or as Miliband’s wealth-destroying retro-socialism.

[…]

On the Tory side there is growing confidence that Ukip support can only decline as the party acquires a disreputable air. The source of many press reports that embarrass Farage is Conservative Campaign HQ, where researchers scour pamphlets and social media for unsavoury remarks by Ukip candidates. Tory strategists recognise that undermining Farage is a job best undertaken at arm’s length. Too many direct attacks by Cameron would lend Ukip the status of equal adversary and risk reminding Tory dissenters of the times they have felt insulted by their own leader. “We need the racist thing to seep into public consciousness,” says an ally of the Prime Minister. “But it can’t be us saying it.”

[…]

Labour has been slow in waking up to that dynamic. At first, the opposition tended to view Farage’s strength as a helpful disruption of Tory support – a family feud on the right that eased Miliband’s path to Downing Street. Then it became clear that Ukip was attracting support from older, working-class voters who felt neglected by Labour in government, especially over immigration policy, but remained culturally immune to voting Tory. At that point, Miliband’s allies conceded that there was a potential hazard down the line but insisted it was not big enough to cost Labour seats in the 2015 general election. Only in recent weeks have aides started voicing concern that Ukip is dragging the whole political debate on to terrain that the Labour leader finds inhospitable.

[…]

Ukip’s reach may be limited by its status as a vehicle for protest votes but that gives it power to define the terms of protest in ways that harm the constitutionally recognised main opposition party. Labour’s priority is to look like a government-in-waiting but part of that image requires also looking like the main destination for people who don’t like the incumbents.

[…]

Instead the party is lumped in with the Tories and Lib Dems as part of a shabby establishment stitch-up, with the added baggage of a reputation for economic mismanagement.

It is an old opposition conundrum: how to fashion a message that is dramatic enough to represent a credible alternative to the status quo, yet responsible enough to withstand scrutiny as a potential programme for government. Ukip isn’t bothering with the second part of the equation (which will be its undoing next year), but Farage is hogging the rhetoric of change and upheaval. His incendiary nationalism burns up the oxygen of publicity that Miliband needs to illuminate his milder offer of soft-left populism. That all suits Cameron to the extent that he is in the business of promising security through continuity.

While Labour and Tories have opposing reasons for wanting to see Farage thwarted, the basis for their arguments is the same. Downing Street aides and Miliband advisers both speak of the need to impress upon voters how high the stakes will be in 2015; how the ultimate question is whether Cameron is allowed to continue as Prime Minister – with one side warning that another term of Conservatism would finish off hope of fair rewards for all and the other warning that Labour would guarantee national bankruptcy. What they want, above all, is for the public to view the general election as a two-party race, with the Lib Dems and Ukip as sirens, luring in wasted votes and thereby abetting the real enemy.

[…]

The threat that situation poses to Cameron lies in the electoral arithmetic – Ukip can cost him seats. For Miliband, it is a problem of momentum – Ukip has stolen his insurgent thunder. The Tories spent too long chasing Ukip’s agenda; Labour spent too long ignoring it. Farage’s bubble will not suddenly burst. More likely, the air will seep out slowly over the coming year, by which time both Cameron’s and Miliband’s prospects of winning a majority may already be blown away.

Tidskriftsomslag: New Statesman den 23-29 maj 2014.

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LEDARSKAP | Ed Miliband kritiseras alltmer inom Labour för sin försiktighet och oförmåga att koppla greppet om premiärminister David Camerons regering.

En av de öppna kritikerna är Lord Glasman. Han är inte tidigare rådgivare till Miliband utan också en av huvudfigurerna inom den idéströmning inom partiet som kallas Blue Labour.

Maurice Glasman framförde kritiken i New Statesman.

There seems to be no strategy, no narrative and little energy. Old faces from the Brown era still dominate the shadow cabinet and they seem stuck in defending Labour’s record in all the wrong ways – we didn’t spend too much money, we’ll cut less fast and less far, but we can’t tell you how.

Labour is apparently pursuing a sectional agenda based on the idea that disaffected Liberal Democrats and public-sector employees will give Labour a majority next time around. But we have not won, and show no signs of winning, the economic argument. We have not articulated a constructive alternative capable of recognising our weaknesses in government and taking the argument to the coalition. We show no relish for reconfiguring the relationship between the state, the market and society. The world is on the turn, yet we do not seem equal to the challenge.

[…]

[Ed Miliband] has not broken through. He has flickered rather than shone, nudged not led. It is time for him to bring the gifts that only he can bring. He should leave behind stale orthodoxies and trust his instinct that change is essential. He must show the kind of courage needed to steer the ship of state through uncharted waters. Now is the time for leadership and action. So far Ed has honoured his responsibilities but has not exerted his power. It is time that he did so. And we all need to show him love and support in return. I’m backing Ed Miliband.

Anledningen till att just denna artikel har väckt så stort intresse är inte nödvändigtvis för att att kritiken kommer från en f.d. rådgivare.

Snarare handlar det om att känslan av besvikelse delas av så många inom partiet oavsett ideologisk inriktning.

Rafael Behr på The Staggers, tidskriftens blogg, skriver:

If this is what Ed’s friends are saying, just imagine the view among his enemies and rivals. Some of the harsh language in the NS column no doubt expresses the frustration of someone who was once closer to the leader than he is now – a case of political love unrequited. And yet you hear variations on Glasman’s theme from many quarters of the party. The prescriptions are always different but the underlying accusation is the same: caution, indecision and a failure to capture the public imagination. The passages of Glasman’s column that have been most quoted elsewhere are the ones that express in a public forum what plenty of people in the party are saying in private – including people who think Ed Miliband can’t run away from Glasman’s ”Blue Labour” ideas fast enough. In other words, even people who disagree with the prescription recognise the diagnosis.

The defence from Miliband’s team amounts to an elaborate call for patience: the party has bounced back remarkably well from crushing defeat; it is more united than ever before; people are still giving the coalition the benefit of the doubt; the full scale of Tory economic failure hasn’t set in yet; the media are hostile. This was all neatly expressed in a New Year strategy memo leaked to the Times, including the memorable lines that Labour has made ”the best recovery of any opposition party in the history of opposition parties” and that comparisons between Ed Miliband and William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith or Michael Howard are ”wide of the mark”.The party would rather such comparisons were donwright impossible.

Övrigt: Läs Ed Milibands svar på kritiken i dagens The Guardian.

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